Science. History. Anthropology. Deductive reasoning. Patience. Physical stamina. Meticulous record-keeping. Archeology demands a lot of its fans, but the payoffs can be huge: at best, a life-changing discovery, at worst, a new appreciation for very old cultures. If your child roams your backyard with a metal detector and a shovel, combs riverbeds for arrowheads, and dreams of being the next Indiana Jones, one of these archeology camps may be just the getaway she – and your lawn – needs.
Crow Canyon, located in Cortez, Colorado, is probably the best-known archeology camp, with programs catering to middle school and high school students. In fact, the summer camps are so in demand that the program requires applicants to write essays and submit recommendations from parents and teachers to be admitted. The lucky few fly to southwest Colorado, where Anasazi culture flourished 800 – 1500 years ago. There, they study the history of the ancient Pueblo people, help professional archeologists excavate an actual site, learn how to sort artifacts in the lab, and practice timeless skills like starting a fire without matches and throwing spears. Although the program is pricey at $1175 per week, scholarships are available for Native and local children.
The Center for American Archeology in Kampsville, Illinois offers a lower-priced option in its High School Field School. Students between 13 – 17 years old study the prehistoric people of the Illinois River Valley by assisting at a local excavation, processing artifacts in the lab and learning how to interpret sites. This is a real field school and students must be willing and able to work outside in the summer heat. In return, they can earn high school or college credit. The price is $725 for one week, and students get discounts for staying longer.
If your whole family’s caught the collecting bug, consider the Family Dig It Weekend, which welcomes children between the ages of 7 – 12 with their parents. Families learn the art of archeological excavation at the 2000-year-old site and try their hands at making stone tools. The cost of $45 per person includes a room, archeological supplies and instruction. http://www.caa-archeology.org/
If a day camp’s more your child’s speed, the Dig History! Day Camp in Thomson, Georgia may be just the ticket. Located in a historic mansion, the camp offers kids between 11 – 17 the opportunity to perform site surveys and learn to read maps, to help excavate the Hickory Hill historic site, and to study flint knapping for only $50 per five days.
Don’t live in Georgia, and sleep-away archeology camp’s more of a commitment than you’re willing to make? Call your local natural history museum to see if they offer any summer programs for kids. If they don’t, local colleges and historic sites may be looking for volunteers. You shouldn’t have to travel far to find an opportunity – after all, history’s not only in books, it’s also underfoot.